Two of the most popular siding options today are vinyl and fiber cement. While both are great options, there are many things to consider before choosing which siding to install on your home. Whether your priority is energy efficiency, eco-friendly, durability, maintenance, or affordability, it is important to be informed of all of these factors before deciding which siding to install. Luckily, we’ve put together a comparative list so you can see which is the best fit for you.
Vinyl: insulated vinyl siding is an energy-efficient option that helps keep your home cool in summer and warm when the temperature drops. Made mostly from PVC, this material is able to expand and contract depending on weather conditions. Also, insulated vinyl siding is ideal for hot summers, so your house can resist the hot temperatures that leak into your home and cause high energy bills. If you’re looking to increase overall energy efficiency in your home, vinyl may be a more budget-friendly, functional siding for you.
Fiber Cement: Not as energy-efficient as vinyl siding, fiber cement is useful as a barrier of protection against weather, pests, and even fire. One drawback is that while vinyl can increase its R-value with insulation, fiber cement is not lightweight enough to afford this option.
Vinyl: While it’s made from Polyvinyl Chloride, after it’s manufactured vinyl siding is one of the most eco-friendly siding materials, mainly because it rarely ever needs to be replaced. This lightweight, low-manufacturing-waste material is easy to transport and even easier to install, which significantly lowers its carbon footprint in comparison to fiber cement.
Fiber Cement: Even though fiber cement is not an entirely natural material, it is a more eco-friendly alternative than using wood to side your home. Made of cellulose fibers, sand, and cement, this thick and durable siding is a long-lasting option for eco-conscious homeowners. You’ll be less likely to have to replace fiber cement because it is rot and termite resistant, unlike wood.
Vinyl: While both vinyl and fiber cement are durable, vinyl is basically untouchable when it comes to external damage. You won’t need to replace this unless you’re looking to pass along your home for a few generations. Besides a touch-up here and there, this is what some would call a “set-it-and-forget-it” siding option.
Fiber Cement: Fiber cement is hardy and rigid, but it’s more likely to crack over time since it is more susceptible to absorb moisture. However, fiber cement siding doesn’t just protect against the outside elements - it also protects against rot, pesky termites, and even fire. So in terms of overall durability, fiber cement is a great investment for homeowners looking to protect their homes from pests and weather damage.
Installation and Maintenance
Vinyl: Vinyl siding’s process needs no extra work before or after installation, which is quite a plus for homeowners in a tight time-constraint with their project. In terms of maintenance, however, it does need some intermittent TLC -- spray cleaning and spot repairs every few years are recommended to keep it looking new.
Fiber Cement: While it is less high-maintenance than wood or other natural materials, fiber cement does need more care and attention than vinyl. In order to be the most weather-resistant and leak-proof, fiber cement has to be painted and caulked during installation. Over the years, fiber cement may need a fresh coat of paint and a new layer of caulk after spending so many years braving the elements. Remember, it is easier to prepare than to repair, so be sure to check your caulking ahead of harsh weather.
Vinyl: There’s a reason that vinyl siding has been the most popular siding option in the U.S. for several years. Vinyl siding is nearly always less expensive than fiber cement siding, mainly due to its manufacturing process and ease of installation. Also, vinyl is generally more durable than fiber cement, though both are strong and can resist many years of severe weather. If needed, vinyl is easier and cheaper to replace than alternative sidings.
Fiber Cement: Fiber cement costs more, due to the labor-intensive work that goes into the installation. Luckily, the upfront cost pays off -- since fiber cement is so durable, it will require fewer repairs and replacements over time. Fiber cement is more expensive to replace since it is heavier and not as easy to transport as other siding types. Luckily, since fiber cement has the appearance of natural wood, it does well for the resale value of a home.
Ultimately, before you decide on a new siding for your home, it is important to ask yourself what aspects of siding are most important to you, as well as take a few factors like the ones listed above into consideration. Whether you want vinyl or fiber cement siding, ask yourself if the location and climate where you live will make a difference in the longevity of your siding, how you want your siding to enhance your overall curb appeal, your budget, and how the siding will work in tandem with your efforts to save energy.
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